We're Running Out of These Elements — Here's How

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  • Published: 07 November 2019
  • Phones, TVs, solar panels, and electric car batteries are all made of some rare and unusual elements. As our modern world creates more and more of these technologies, will things go from "rare" to "nonexistent" and what will we do then?

    Hosted by: Michael Aranda

    SciShow has a spinoff podcast! It's called SciShow Tangents. Check it out at http://www.scishowtangents.org
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    Sources:
    http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/13/aluminium
    http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/27/cobalt
    http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/33/arsenic
    http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/49/indium

    https://www.oulu.fi/energy/node/46134
    https://prd-wret.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets/palladium/production/s3fs-public/atoms/files/mcs-2019-indiu.pdf
    https://www.bgs.ac.uk/mineralsUK/statistics/riskList.html
    https://gizmodo.com/most-commercial-graphene-is-just-expensive-pencil-lead-1829625572
    https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2002/fs087-02/fs087-02.pdf
    https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/earthelements.html
    https://www.offgridweb.com/preparation/understanding-ferrocerium-what-it-is-how-it-works/
    https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2014/3078/pdf/fs2014-3078.pdf
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13563-018-0160-0
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/monazite
    https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2002/fs087-02/fs087-02.pdf
    https://io9.gizmodo.com/how-chinas-rare-earth-weapon-went-from-boom-to-bust-1653638596
    https://mineralseducationcoalition.org/minerals-database/arsenic/
    https://www.pnas.org/content/112/14/4257.full#ref-5
    https://www.cobaltinstitute.org/lithium-ion-batteries.html
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cssc.201802556
    https://prd-wret.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets/palladium/production/s3fs-public/atoms/files/mcs-2019-galli.pdf
    https://phys.org/news/2019-05-china-threat-deprive-rare-earths.html
    https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rsta.2011.0563
    https://www.resourcepanel.org/file/381/download?token=he_rldvr
    https://prd-wret.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets/palladium/production/s3fs-public/atoms/files/mcs-2019-arsen.pdf
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S089268750900106X
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cssc.201802556
    https://www.copper.org/publications/newsletters/innovations/2004/05/producing_copper_natures_way_bioleaching.html
    https://www.jchps.com/specialissues/Special%20issue3/33%20jchps%20si3%20addn%20kavitha%20147-149.pdf
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    Images:
    https://www.videoblocks.com/video/repairing-and-changing-of-a-screen-on-a-iphone-mobile-phone-rlfmaf56vjw7npysh
    https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/periodic-table-of-elements-gm1142193660-306312056
    https://www.videoblocks.com/video/flying-over-rows-of-solar-panels-r193mwuhxjnwc60uj
    https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/open-pit-zink-mine-gm153767196-14910788
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Comments • 1 663

  • Steve Mclean
    Steve Mclean  2 hours back

    When we run out of helium., that is when we all die.

    • Lorenzo Robles
      Lorenzo Robles  5 hours back

      @7:27 he claims recycling the metals will help stop climate change...you can't stop the climate, brother.

      • Darmok
        Darmok  5 hours back

        Two words: *asteroid mining*

        • The One Minds
          The One Minds  6 hours back

          Alchemy is the solution to all the problems listed here

          • Frukwon 420
            Frukwon 420  7 hours back

            tech companies should pay consumers to recycle their tech

            • Lakshmi T
              Lakshmi T  9 hours back

              Why are lanthanide series marked two periods up the group?

              • DEATHWISH -CHRIS
                DEATHWISH -CHRIS  10 hours back

                Totally unrelated but the host looks so much like Chino Moreno singer from the Deftones!

                Great video, thanks!

                • Ben Johnson
                  Ben Johnson  10 hours back

                  Global warming is a con, by the way.

                  • Hans Hoerdemann
                    Hans Hoerdemann  11 hours back

                    What's wrong with his ear lobes?

                    • Daniel Law
                      Daniel Law  15 hours back

                      I look forward to mining asteroid.

                      • Harry Helen
                        Harry Helen  18 hours back

                        Damn. This means we can’t make the Death Star. I’m so sad.

                        • Armando Flores
                          Armando Flores  18 hours back

                          Unlimited universe and we're running out of elements. Smh

                          • Rose Gott
                            Rose Gott  18 hours back

                            Thank you, handsome science guy!

                            • Adam Salazar
                              Adam Salazar  19 hours back

                              Intense.

                              • Cole Chapman
                                Cole Chapman  20 hours back

                                Obviously the solution is to print out more elements duh.

                                • mikitz
                                  mikitz  20 hours back

                                  I used to mining anti-materia. The mine blew up, once I materialized the proceeds.

                                  • 989533234564
                                    989533234564  21 hours back

                                    assuming we cant just get them from space in the future once the price is high enough there will be people willing to mine in dangerous conditions to extract the materials even if they try to make doing so illegal, if the price of arsenic was say $200/kg and there were deposits near me with around 1kg of arsenic per ton of ore mined id be right out there with a pick axe and a gas mask id like to think im a decent enough chemist so unless the extraction of the metal requires electrolysis at 2000k ish like with something like sodium or aluminium i could probably do the extraction on a small scale too can't be much worse than working with mercury or lead.

                                    • Marco Cardin
                                      Marco Cardin  22 hours back

                                      Metals can be recycled but it's almost impossible to recover helium and that's a huge trouble!

                                      • tentimesful
                                        tentimesful  23 hours back

                                        China has probably has the most minerals as their prices stay low, in made in China products... Samsung and others are bringing products that cost 1000+ dollar smartphones , which is a joke... But in real life we will run out of things we can't make out of nothing, iron wolf ertz, uranium, oil etc... World should keep hold on what brings us to forward without those minerals and fossils...

                                        • oliver franklin
                                          oliver franklin  24 hours back

                                          The future is bleak for your kids

                                          • Jimme2020
                                            Jimme2020  1 days back

                                            Asteroid mining would solve all the problems......

                                            • Betty Hancock
                                              Betty Hancock  1 days back

                                              Wonder how much of these things are on the moon? Or asteroids

                                              • Betty Hancock
                                                Betty Hancock  1 days back

                                                I don't think we're going to have to worry about all this electronics and solar panels much longer. Hopefully.

                                                • Rich
                                                  Rich  1 days back

                                                  Graphene will be the material of the 21 century.

                                                  • Mr Monstah
                                                    Mr Monstah  1 days back

                                                    Graphene is like really easy to make though

                                                    • Ravi Rajyaguru
                                                      Ravi Rajyaguru  1 days back

                                                      Thanos did have a point though.

                                                      • Lobster Johnson
                                                        Lobster Johnson  2 days back

                                                        So this is what the Incubus singer is up to these days

                                                        • Gitana Maldita
                                                          Gitana Maldita  2 days back

                                                          Good motivation for asteroid mining?

                                                          • Randy Wiggins
                                                            Randy Wiggins  2 days back

                                                            Radio Shack had a battery return policy alleged to be recycled but bet they were tossed. Recycling only makes sense in bulk . Car tires still a problem.

                                                            • Wayne Shilcock
                                                              Wayne Shilcock  2 days back

                                                              China owns most of the rare minerals, so war with China then.

                                                              • Mi 28
                                                                Mi 28  2 days back

                                                                All that said, recycling is significantly more expensive than mining.

                                                                • Gandoff2000
                                                                  Gandoff2000  2 days back

                                                                  Recycling?

                                                                  • Vinder Singh
                                                                    Vinder Singh  2 days back

                                                                    RECYCLING IS KEY OF SUSTAINABILITY.

                                                                    • derpaderp
                                                                      derpaderp  2 days back

                                                                      Good video you've become a way better public speaker since I lasted watched you like maybe 2-3 years ago

                                                                      • Devious Verendus
                                                                        Devious Verendus  2 days back

                                                                        A big issue with the limited resources we have is also just the fact that producers of gadgets and other products push to sell as much as possible and therefore release a new phone every year instead of waiting a few years and preserving our resources

                                                                        • Brian Cossey
                                                                          Brian Cossey  2 days back

                                                                          Indium is no longer necessary because of graphene that is now easy and cheap to make

                                                                          • Frick
                                                                            Frick  2 days back

                                                                            solar panels are horrible energy sources

                                                                            • Chad Burton
                                                                              Chad Burton  2 days back

                                                                              China produces the most because they don't deal with the environmental restrictions the rest of the developed world does

                                                                              • Thomas Mitchell
                                                                                Thomas Mitchell  2 days back

                                                                                This is why Industrial civilisation is and will always be unsustainable. As long as we keep thinking technology will save us we are screwed. This delusional idea that we will figure these problems out will become as big of a problem in the future as the global warming deniers are right now. In truth the religion of technology is in many ways a denial of what is truly sustainable... But we will see. we could always discover something amazing any day now right? just have faith?

                                                                                • Joshua Snyder
                                                                                  Joshua Snyder  2 days back

                                                                                  And everybody wonders why the demographic transition in some countries is so much slower than that of other countries... perceiving children as economic assets and things of that nature are just small blips on the big picture. Criticality is one of the main reasons why the demographic transition is slower for these unfortunate portions of the world. It's kind of sad, and there's not much anyone can really do about it.

                                                                                  • Scrap5000
                                                                                    Scrap5000  2 days back

                                                                                    Arsenic is no longer used to pressure treat wood, for many years now. What else is wrong in this video???

                                                                                    • Nick Tan
                                                                                      Nick Tan  2 days back

                                                                                      The MAIN problem is OVER supply. There is demand yes but way too much production more than the phone can be sold.

                                                                                      • Rachel Losacco
                                                                                        Rachel Losacco  2 days back

                                                                                        carbon naNOTUUUUUBES!

                                                                                        • Adam Kelley
                                                                                          Adam Kelley  2 days back

                                                                                          ...or we could mine everything in space and not give up anything, which sounds more like past human behavior to me.

                                                                                          • Good Bye
                                                                                            Good Bye  2 days back

                                                                                            We’re also running out of the elements of surprise and originality in the YouTube comment section. Every other top liked comment is a meme used a thousand times over

                                                                                            • Mad Machanicest
                                                                                              Mad Machanicest  2 days back

                                                                                              were getting to the point were we can mine some of this stuff from space. in short pulling down to earth what we need. tho this is likely a few decades of it likely to happen with in most of ower life times.

                                                                                              • Jeremy Heartriter2.0
                                                                                                Jeremy Heartriter2.0  2 days back

                                                                                                Somebody might consider buying a landfill for future possibilities of using them as mines.

                                                                                                • quayscenes
                                                                                                  quayscenes  2 days back

                                                                                                  Great info. However, the extreme jump-cut editing is massively annoying. All the presenters sound exactly alike which is also annoying. I would rather see a little personality come through. I can't continue watching this video.